So you’ve upgraded (because that’s what it is) to wet shaving and with the bug firmly biting down, you want to learn all you can about the art.
Well, you’ve come to the right place, because today we’d like to expand your knowledge of the wet shaving brush. Shaving brushes are one of the most important (safety razor aside) parts of your wet shaving tool kit. If used to its full potential, the shaving brush will increase your wet shave enjoyment and greatly improve your results.
Anatomy of a Shaving Brush
Upon closer inspection we discovered that the average wet shave brush isn’t as ‘average’ as we had first assumed.
The reality is that shaving brush (which originated in France back in the 1750s) is an ensemble of carefully selected natural or synthetic bristles that are knotted-usually by hand-to create that fury top end designed to hold as much of your luxurious lather as possible.
Finally the knot or bristles (which can be sourced separately btw) is fixed to a handle made of nylon, urethane or plastic all of which are water proof and tough.
Some folk prefer natural sources like tortoise shell and of course that beautiful French polished cherry or other wood handle.
The handle, often grooved for easy mounting hasn’t changed much over the centuries and plays a small role in the overall performance of your wet shave brush.
With regard to handle length, we’ve found (and you may agree), larger handed men who use a mug or bowl for generating their lather prefer some length while smaller handed gentlemen and those who travel often or lather on the face, may prefer a smaller handle.
The Bristle Knot
The bristle knot, the furry end, comes in a wide variety of materials and we’d venture a guess the majority of natural fibers (they come in synthetic polyester also) are badger sourced. Currently, the badger community sports a global statistic of eight types.
Since China endorsed the culling of these critters (due to overpopulation) they (China) became the leading suppliers of badger hair for shaving brush manufacturers worldwide.
In addition to Badger, bristle knots also come in boar and (to a lesser extent) horse. In a nut shell, badger is favored for its softness, great moisture retention and availability. Horse, although not as popular, has its appeal anchored in the fact that it is stiffer than badger but softer than boar.
The boar knot (in addition to its stiffness) dries quicker, great for (because of the stiffer back bone) really saturating the stubble as well as exfoliating the skin.
Nowadays, one can find mixtures of boar and badger. The synthetic bristle knot is made using nylon bristles, can rapidly generate a thick lather with comparably small volumes of shaving soap, dry fast, require no pre-soak and last longer.
Whether ‘’Pure’’, ‘’Best’’, ‘’Super’’ or ‘’Silver’’, Badger Bristle Knots Deliver!
The common gradations used to class badger include “pure” badger, “best” badger, and “super” or “silvertip” badger.
‘‘Pure’’ badger hair is the hair from the underbelly and covers 60% of the little guy’s body. It’s not a consistent colour and so don’t expect your wet shave brushes to be replicas in this class.
“Best’’ badger hair is longer in length and lighter in colour than the ‘’pure’’ badger hair, the knot is also denser (meaning more hair packed in) with corresponding increase in the lather.
The ‘’super’’ badger hair, although more expensive, is in reality ‘’pure’’ badger hair that’s been bleached to appear like its silver tipped. These brushes are unique because they’ve been assembled using hair that’s been scrutinized for quality.
With a genuine ‘silvertip’ brush the white discoloration extends further down the hair than bleached ‘’super’’ badger brush hair (just so you know). A genuine ‘’silvertip’’ shaving brush is the most expensive and very rare.
It has the natural white tips and has a fluffy appearance because the tips of the hair are flared. This brush holds more water also and produces an amazing rich lather effortlessly.
Gentlemen, we wanted to make this as informative as possible so you can take your wet shave to the next level. If we had to put our personal take on things out there, it would be to suggest that you invest in two shaving brushes, a pricier more robust shaving brush for home use, and a smaller, more compact brush when travelling.
Irrespective of where you want to wet shave, we suggest that you never compromise in bristle quality. The exfoliating and close shave enhancing impact of a strong-bristled shaving brush is definitely under-estimated in the world of wet shaving.